(Originally published on MOLI 5/1/8)
I love my FUPA.
FUPA, in case you’re not up on the latest teen lingo, stands for Fat Upper Pubic (or Pussy) Area. It’s a word my now 17-year-old daughter taught me a couple years ago, right at the same time she gave me a boy-beater tank top with another contemporary acronym — MILF — on it. MILF, of course, stands for Mother I’d Like to Fuck. The two terms, one derogatory and one complimentary, are linked not merely because I learned them at the same time, but because many mothers battle their FUPA in order to maintain fuckability. I’m glad Kenda gave me a MILF tee — I believe the occasion was Mother’s Day, so it was a pretty rockin’ gift from a stepdaughter — and not one saying FUPA. But I am not ashamed of the fact that since I had a baby, my body hasn’t been the same. And yet, apparently, according to this very tough critic, I’m a MILF.
I bring all this up because, thanks in part to the celebrity mom boom and the media’s mania over it, new mothers’ bodies are becoming a bit of a cultural obsession. One tabloid cover I recently saw in a supermarket — I won’t buy these damn things — had the gall to rate which stars had best recovered their figures since giving birth. Equally heinously, a Miami plastic surgeon (of course) has written a children’s book to help kids understand why their mommies are covered in bruises and bandages after having operations to correct “the ravages of pregnancy.” I kid you not. (Thanks to The Miami Herald’s Howard Cohen for reporting on My Beautiful Mommy.)
I loved being pregnant. I suppose it was like being ravaged — but then, I kind of like being ravaged too. I’ve always been a bit of a skinny Minnie, and I relished the transformation into curves. In the Herald story, author Dr. Michael Salzhauer complains of sagging breasts and stretched skin. Maybe I’m an exception, but my boobs are bigger and better than ever at age 43 (just ask my husband). And stretched skin is a small price to pay for having my son wake up this morning, look at me with a big sleepy smile, and say, “I love you Mom.”
You, reader living in some hip urbane boho area, might assume My Beautiful Mommy is a laughable tome destined for dustbins. But I can tell you, here in Miami, where the beauty myth holds full sway, it has a captive audience. Many are the mothers at my son’s school who have comically inflated lips and breasts — thus disfiguring their resemblance to their darling children. I suspect some are familiar with Dr. Salzhauer himself.
Even fellow alt-parenting author Erika Schickel has chronicled her own battle with the bulge, fighting her “pussy belly,” as she calls it, with a girdle in a funny, poignant scene in her book You’re Not the Boss of Me: Adventures of a Modern Mom.
Now, I’m an advocate of fighting the notion that motherhood equals frump. That’s part of the premise of my book Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’Roll. But I’m sick of the pressure on moms to be hot, hip, and wasp-waisted, like the caricature on the cover of Salzhauer’s book. Instead of applying teenaged beauty standards to grown women, we need to start fetishing mature bodies. Saggy breasts rock. “Look at these, my child-bearing hips.” FUPAs are fuckable. Put it on a T-shirt.